Crete is the biggest island of Greece and the whole Mediterranean world. With a rich history of over 9000 years total, it is one of the most important places of Ancient Greece.
Crete was already inhabited by 7,000 BCE, but for the first few thousands of years, Cretans were most likely early farmers, forming villages to raise animals and grow food. By 2700 BCE, they knew the many uses of olive oil; large olive fields were planted, and olives and oil made out of them were traded near and far in the ancient world.
Around this time, the biggest Cretan civilization began to emerge, called the Minoan Civilization. The name comes from King Minos, whom the mythology believes to be Zeus’ -the father of gods’- son himself. He commanded Daedalus to build a labyrinth to capture the Minotaur, a mythical creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man. Its ruins are still standing today in Knossos, with hundreds of thousands of visitors viewing them each year.
The Minoans, people of the Minoan Civilization, were not only great farmers and craftsmen with the knowledge to make fascinating clay pottery and ceramics, they very successful traders and businessmen, as well. With the riches gathered from these trades, they built many large and famous cities, such as Knossos, Phaistos, or Malia. These palaces often had two stories, lots of fine decorations, and artwork. Minoans also invented unique hieroglyphs -letters, and signs- to use as their writing.
This time period is full of rich mythology and culture. Crete is considered to be Zeus’ -the father of gods’- birthplace, where he was born in a cave, according to the myth. His twins, the famous god, Apollo, and the goddess Artemis were also born here. Zeus had to battle many mythical creatures in Crete to rid the land of them, some of which he had turned into stone and cast into the sea, creating small islands around Crete.
The Minoan Civilization came to a sudden end around 1500-1450 BCE, when Thira, an island about 60 miles north of Crete, suffered from a massive volcanic eruption, followed by a tsunami, both of which that caused enormous damage to the land and the cities of the Minoans alike, to never to be rebuilt again and to be abandoned by the people.
There is little known about what happened in the dark ages that followed this period, between 1200 BCE and 800 BCE. Eventually, new migrants have arrived at the land, creating new settlements and busy cities, and Crete began to thrive once again, for many centuries to come, until Ancient Rome, and the Roman Empire began getting involved in Cretan events, around the 2nd century BCE.
Crete is still full of ancient and mythical places to visit today, with the ruins of the Minoan palaces of Knossos and Phaistos, or the famous Archeological Museum of Heraklion, where many ancient relics, pottery, sculptures, and other Bronze-Age objects, coins, and gold pieces of jewelry can be seen.
Link/cite this page
If you use any of the content on this page in your own work, please use the code below to cite this page as the source of the content.
Link will appear as Crete – Ancient Greek Places: https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net - Greek Gods & Goddesses, October 21, 2019